resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
An MD Who Understands the Opioid Epidemic
Doctors of chiropractic have an important role to play in ending the opioid epidemic and dealing with chronic pain by conservative means (see our top story in this issue) – but who's to blame for opioid dependence and abuse in the first place?
What You Say Isn't Always What Patients Hear
A few years ago, my aunt Edna (name changed for the purpose of this story) suffered a stroke. After a short hospital stay, she was transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation. When she arrived at the nursing home, Edna requested a private room.
Multivitamin Supplement May Reduce Breast Cancer Recurrence
There is a great deal of controversy regarding the value of multiple vitamin supplements in cancer prevention.
Acupuncture Muscle Trigger Point and Oriental Medicine Sports Therapy
It is difficult to ascertain the internal condition of professional basketball player Lebron James during game one of the 2014 NBA finals, in which he developed debilitating muscle cramps that led to his premature removal from the game.
Kansas Achieves Licensing Law
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed House Bill 2615 into law on Friday, May 13, 2016. HB2615 includes provisions for the licensure of acupuncturists in the state of Kansas.
The Pertinent Negative
We all have to perform evaluations on patients. Most of us don't like doing it – exams take time, and worse it takes even more time after the evaluation to put together a narrative summary of the findings. Sometimes, this process becomes downright tedious.
Treating Hip & Groin Pain With Abdominal Release of Upper Lumbar Nerve Impingements
Have you encountered patients with groin and hip pain you can't seem to solve? You know it's not a worn-out hip; you suspect the pain is somehow connected to the spine. But somehow, you just can't help them break through.
Increasing the Value of Spine Care: CMS Approves New Low Back Pain Registry
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved the Spine IQ Low Back Pain Registry as a qualified clinical data registry for the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) in 2016.
A Long-Overdue Win for Oregon Medicaid Patients - and the Implications for Other States
Beginning July 1, 2016, Oregon Medicaid patients with spinal pain (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, pelvic) who are determined to be low risk based on a biopsychosocial assessment tool (STarT Back – Keele University) can receive four chiropractic visits per episode.
Beating the Odds: Interview With Para-Powerlifter Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta
Since October 2015, the FICS Foundation, the charitable organization affiliated with the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (FICS), has been supporting disabled athletes internationally.
Sit or Stand? Analyzing a Mixed Message
I'm more than a bit confused. At my age, that seems to be a rather common occurrence. However, today more than ever, I'm getting a mixed message.
Insuring Quality Control in Herb Importation: An Interview with Wilson Lau
Wilson Lau is the vice president of Nuherbs, a Chinese herb importation company based in San Leandro, California. Before joining Nuherbs, he trained as a lawyer specializing in FDA law.
How to Stay Sane During the Elections: Understanding Through the Lens of Chinese Medicine
In Chinese Medicine philosophy, everything consists of Yin and Yang. The law of polar opposites – one cannot exist without its opposite.
Tai Chi Documentary Premier
First Run Features recently announced the world theatrical premiere of Barry Strugatz's documentary The Professor: Tai Chi's Journey West, which premiered last month at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles.
Acupuncture's Impact on the World
For several years, I have been hearing about the town of Rothenburg, Germany. It seemed just a dot on a map until I arrived. It is the home of the TCM Kongress which began in 1968. It has been held annually for 47 years and it has only missed one year.
AOM Hospital-Based Practice: A Future Reality?
The natural evolution of health care on the planet is integrative health. We may have some challenges ahead, but based on my research, all indicators are pointing in a positive direction. There seems to be an evolving consciousness among our patient population that is "getting it."
An Emerging Partnership Model
Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) has educated integrative health and wellness practitioners for the last 40 years, originally as an acupuncture clinic and school. The institution's transformative, relationship-centered programs integrate traditional wisdom with contemporary science
Chronic Pain: Become Part of the Solution
I have lectured to more than 7,000 chiropractic physicians over the past five years regarding the chronic pain and opioid epidemic in this country.
Three Tips to Help You Analyze the Acupuncture Case Studies of the NCCAOM Exam
Confirm the answer quickly by the elimination method. Case study:
After two treatments for back pain, a patient presents for a third
session complaining of rapid breathing and wheezing that is made worse
during cold weather.
Believe it or not, an estimated one-third of your patients have eaten some form of fast food within 24 hours of their appointment with you.
Adventures with the San Jiao
Those of us who have been in practice for several decades relish the way meridians and points reveal new diagnostic clues and new insights. I love to encourage my students to see this as an adventure that goes way beyond the textbooks.
What's New in Phytonutrition: Mangifera Indica, "The King of Fruits"
One hundred percent pure Indian green mango fruit (mangifera indica), harvested at a special degree of ripeness for efficacy and taste, can now be concentrated as a phytonutrient nutraceutical powder.
September, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 09
It's "Back to School" Time!
By Cliff Korn, BS, LMT, NCTMB
Becoming a massage therapist requires a great deal of preparation, perhaps the most visible and tangible being basic education. In the not-so-distant past, the most common forms of massage education were mentoring and apprenticeship.This is no longer the case; in fact, in many jurisdictions apprenticeship is no longer recognized as valid educational eligibility for the legal right to practice. These days, almost all prospective massage therapists go to school. Jurisdictions no longer recognize the validity of apprenticeship, primarily because the quality of instruction is so difficult to gauge.
How does one equate an apprenticeship to standardized vocational training in a school setting? Vocational schools are almost always under the oversight of a state Department of Education. However, as we all know, massage education is far from "standardized." Without going into the quantity of education required to practice -- that's a discussion for another day -- my concern in this article is the quality of education received by massage therapists entering the field today.
Formal schooling appears to have many benefits over apprenticeship. In a regulated environment, regulating entities should have an easier time verifying eligibility criteria. In an unregulated environment, prospective clients should be able to benefit from the reputation of an institution that graduates many therapists. Prospective students should be able to realize economies of scale from an institution that provides services to many students. A matriculating student should be able to benefit from feedback from multiple instructors and peers. But is formal schooling providing these benefits? If so, why do so many practicing first- and second-year therapists indicate to me that they are pretty good, "in spite of" their schooling? More important to the public, why is it that a given number of schools, all with state Department of Education oversight, will graduate just as many classes with vastly different levels of ability and/or knowledge? Has the business of massage education superceded the duty of massage education: to best prepare a student to be competitive as a practicing therapist? Lastly, why do so many recent graduates complain that they were ill prepared for how incredibly difficult it can be to establish a full-time practice that actually pays the bills?
Let me interject that I am not starting a rant on the sorry state of massage education in the U.S.! There is much superb massage schooling available to the ever-increasing numbers of potential students. What I am saying is that I believe there is much too much disparity in the levels of educational quality within any given state, and certainly among states. I see two causes of this phenomenon. First, precious few instructors of massage therapy have had any formal training in education, other than an in-house qualification program. Second, a massage school that markets effectively can succeed financially without obtaining institutional and/or programmatic accreditation.
The scarcity of experienced teachers is problematic for students and school owners alike. The inability to hire enough individuals capable of meeting appropriate guidelines forces schools to staff positions with less than desirable candidates. In my state, an instructor must possess the following qualifications to teach in a post-secondary private vocational institution:
These qualifications are very similar to those in many other states. While the situation of last year's student being this year's teacher is not as prevalent as it was several years ago, I feel certain that many of today's massage instructors have neither a teaching credential nor five years experience. It is my observation that regulators overseeing post-secondary education tend not place much emphasis on proprietary vocational schoolteacher qualifications.
The lack of ubiquitous school accreditation compounds this problem. I applaud those schoolowners who go the extra mile and spend the extra money to have their institutions and programs accredited by valid accrediting bodies. While there are many unaccredited schools providing superior education, it is my opinion that the accredited schools are those that best:
I find that ill-trained massage therapists are not just a problem to be solved by a free market economy. These therapists are a problem for your practice and my practice. Today's clients walk in the door with expectations they didn't have 10 or 15 years ago. We have made great strides in educating the public on the benefits of massage therapy. A colleague I was speaking to by telephone mentioned that potential clients have the expectation that we, as massage therapists, have viable protocols for the management of muscular dysfunction and can pull from a large tool bag of options to benefit our clients. Even clients booking appointments for the more pampering aspects of our trade frequently present with low back and/or neck issues that need to be addressed before they can relax on the table. Therapists who aren't competitive in ability and provide less- than-expected service can turn clients off massage therapy forever. On the other hand, if they lack the knowledge and ability because they were never taught properly, how much can we blame them?
Kudos to those schools who are solving these problems every day!
Massage Today encourages letters to the editor to discuss matters relating to the publication's content. Letters may be published in a future issue of Massage Today. Please send all correspondence by e-mail to , or by regular mail to the address listed below:
Former editor of Massage Today, Cliff is owner of Windham Health Center Neuromuscular Therapy LLC. He is nationally certified in therapeutic massage & bodywork and is licensed as a massage therapist by the states of New Hampshire and Florida. Cliff is a member of the International Association of Healthcare Practitioners; a professional member and past president of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association; a certified member of the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, Inc.; and a past chairman of the board of directors of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.
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